[Excerpt of article by Alex Putterman, which appeared on the front page of the Hartford Courant on July 3, 2021]
A new survey of Connecticut residents shows that the majority of people who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 are open to vaccination, but that fears linger over side effects.
According to preliminary results from DataHaven’s ongoing statewide survey, only 36% of unvaccinated adults in Connecticut (or about 7% of the state’s total adult population) say they definitely won’t get the vaccine. Another 29% say they are waiting to see how the vaccine affects other people, while 17% say they will get it when it is required for work or other activities and 13% say that they plan to get it as soon as they can.
These findings suggest Connecticut has significant room to improve on its rate of vaccination, which currently stands at 67% of the full population and 77% of those eligible.
DataHaven’s preliminary results come from June interviews with 1,616 randomly selected Connecticut adults, as part of a survey that will eventually include more than 10,000 respondents.
The DataHaven survey found that Republicans and Republican-leaning independents are less than half as likely to report having been vaccinated as Democrats and that vaccination is also lower among those who don’t trust health care providers and those who say local government does a poor job responding to the needs of their community.
COVID-19 vaccination is highest, according to the survey, in suburban towns, as well as among white people and those with college degrees. It is lower, by comparison, in rural and urban areas, as well as among Black and Hispanic adults and those with lower levels of education. Many of these findings are also borne out in state data, which shows low rates of vaccination in Connecticut’s largest cities, as well as in some rural towns in the eastern part of the state.
According to the DataHaven survey, 66% of adults who have not been vaccinated say they are either very or somewhat concerned about serious side effects, while 34% fear having to miss work due to side effects and 8% fear missing work to make an appointment.
Despite statewide efforts aimed at making vaccination accessible, 15% of unvaccinated adults, including 32% in large cities, say they are concerned they won’t be able to get a COVID-19 vaccine from a provider they trust. Additionally, 13% of unvaccinated adults say they worry about having to pay out of pocket for a vaccine, even though vaccination is free for all patients.
At least some vaccine hesitance, meanwhile, seems to be rooted in untrue beliefs, with 28% of adults, including nearly half in large cities, worried they might get COVID-19 from a vaccine, which is not possible.
Health officials have urged all Connecticut residents age 12 and older to get vaccinated, especially given the creeping threat of the highly infectious Delta variant. Though Connecticut ranks among the states with the highest rates of vaccination, experts say it still stands short of the threshold necessary to offer broad, population-wide protection against COVID-19.
Because the larger survey is still incomplete, DataHaven did not release a margin of error Friday. DataHaven is a New Haven-based nonprofit that oversees a comprehensive Community Wellbeing Survey meant to measure different aspects of life in Connecticut.